UA first fall practice

Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is battling QBs Jesse Scroggins, Connor Brewer and Jerrard Randall for the starting spot. 

Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star 2013

Every once in a while during a practice, Anu Solomon will have a little talk with himself.

Known by his coaches as a laid-back guy, who could afford to be more assertive at times, the redshirt freshman quarterback will catch himself when he’s not quite at the intensity level he should be at.

“Sometimes I see myself being laid back, and I’m like ‘come on Anu, step it up; let’s go,” Solomon said tonight following the UA’s two-hour practice at Arizona Stadium. “I can’t be nonchalant and cool, as they claim me to be.”

The quarterback from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School is trying to prove he has the right mentality to lead the Wildcats this season.

The competition to be the UA’s starter is far from over. Solomon has spent the most time of all the quarterbacks with the first-team offense this training camp, but it’s apparent he has a long way to go before the keys of Rich Rodriguez’s offense are handed to him.

He thinks the battle with Jesse Scroggins, Jerrard Randall and Connor Brewer has accelerated his development.

“They’re all good,” Solomon said of the other three. “I’m competing against them. They’re all great guys, great players. While we’re competing against each other, we’re just making ourselves better as well.”

Solomon was the only quarterback to talk after practice, but he was also the only one we requested, so don’t read anything into it.

The quarterback said the two biggest aspects of his game he wanted to improve on from last year were his conditioning and understanding of the offense.

Both have improved.

“My reads and speed,” Solomon said of the two areas he worked the hardest on. “We take long drives and I’m huffing and puffing sometimes. It can make me slow on some plays, but I just need to suck it up, and get in good shape and get my speed up.”

The signal-caller had plenty more to say, and I’ll have more on him in Thursday’s Star.

Before we get into the rest of the notes and quotes from tonight's practice, I was able to catch up with Pac-12 Networks analyst and former UCLA, Washington and Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel today. We covered a lot of topics and had some fun. Take a look:

And now the rest of the notes and quotes from tonight:

• Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said the two outside linebacker spots next to Scooby Wright are wide open. He’s seen things he likes from DeAndre’ Miller, Jake Matthews, Keoni Bush-Loo, Derrick Turituri and recently Cody Ippolito.

Like Rodriguez says often about different positions on offense, Casteel said he’s less concerned with finding three starters at linebacker, and would rather have six to seven guys at the position he feels comfortable with.

Ippolito is an interesting case. He didn’t play last season because of a knee injury. He played in seven games as a true freshman in 2012, but didn’t register any stats.

But he was a star at Scottsdale Chaparral High School with Brewer and DaVonte’ Neal, and has good size at 6-2, 230.

He’s run with the first-team the last three practices, but Casteel said not to read too much into that, and he’s cycling different players to get different looks.

• Casteel offered his thoughts on safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant and how he’s progressing: “Right now, we’re working with the guys that put in time. That’s where we’re at with that. Tra’Mayne had a good year last year, and he’s a good football player. But a lot of guys are working. When that comes around, Coach Rodriguez will determine that.”

• Casteel said it’s important that Jordan Allen and Dwight Melvin get healthy, and can contribute to the defensive line. Both have been sidelined with concussions, but did more in practice today than recent days. Allen, a LSU transfer, should see plenty of snaps once he’s fully healthy and up to speed on the defense.

That’s all for tonight. Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.